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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Owen Zupp

Friday's Fabulous Flyer:

What do you get when you cross a commercial pilot who’d flown 200 fighter missions during the Korean War, with a woman who’d been a WWII radar operator?

Owen Zupp

“I was always ‘most likely’ to end up in a cockpit some where. If I wasn’t at school, I was at the local airport filling in as my father’s shadow and crawling over all and sundry airplanes.”

Owen Zupp.

Owen is a published author, journalist and commercial airline pilot. He’s got over 16,000 hours of experience, and has flown around the world and back again, and currently lives down-under in Australia.

17 years old, and he soloed. After graduation he spent years as a Paramedic. But his desire and passion to fly never wavered, as he poured his hard earned wages into renting aircraft at the local airport. His gratitude is heart-felt for a father who sat by his side, and provided instruction. “I still abide by the critical lessons he imparted in those early days and his ‘old school’ adherence to airmanship.”

Jabiru and RAAF FA-18

Owen broke into the industry he loved, and then he spent the next seven years flying anything he could while working toward his dreams. Chief Pilot, Chief Flight Instructor, Licensed Examiner, Charter operator, and Ferry Pilot. He even flew the remote islands of the Pacific.

One of Owens’ favorite memories:

“A cherished time in that early career was flying in the remote Kimberley region of northwest Australia. Living in a caravan, there was little else to do but fly and I couldn’t have been happier. I learnt so much in this time to the beautiful setting of the great Australian outback.”

Tiger at Sunset

Pilot. Author. Speaker.
Journalist. Husband. Father.

Owen is a man of many hats, and his story is one of success, adventure, hard work and joy. As a writer, I’m learning the power of first person. Please enjoy the readers-digest version of an incredible man, from his POV, and the success he’s achieved. It's hard to crunch a life into a few paragraphs, but we'll try.

“In 1994 I had to grow up and I joined a domestic airline, Ansett Australia, flying Boeing 737-300s. As was once said, “It was a great airline, but a lousy business.” So when the airline collapsed in 2001, just after 9/11, I spent a short period unemployed before joining another carrier. I spent a few years on the B747-400 on international operations, but now I’m back on the B737-800 and happy to be there.

Over the years there have been so many memorable moments aloft. I’ve been fortunate to fly a range of airplanes as I often review new types for magazines. Amongst the list of aircraft, the highlights would be flying my Tiger Moth biplane at dawn on a still morning and tearing up the skies in a dual control P-51 Mustang with a friend of mine. Obviously that first solo flight was special, but there’s something about the first solo ‘cross country’ trip that really made me think that this was all very amazing. From the flight levels I’ve seen a rocket launch out of Vandenberg that lit up the sky, just as dawn was breaking, while nature turned on its own light show as the ‘Southern Lights’ on the way back from Johannesburg. In 2010 I circumnavigated Australia in a light aircraft, a Jabiru, for charity. Over 18 days I saw the very best scenery and the most wonderful people Australia could offer.

Route Map 5th May

I’ve had a few in-flight ‘events’ over the years, but the most significant was probably when I was conducting a student pilot’s flight test in a single-engined light aircraft and the engine decided to go quiet. We were over rather inhospitable terrain known as ‘The Great Dividing Range’, but fortunately I was able to put the airplane down in a small clearing, although we had to catch a rescue helicopter home that night. Equally significant was that this near miss gave me the courage to ask out a certain young lady; now we’ve been married 15 years and have four great children.

OZ Tiger Moth

I cherish every moment that the earth has fallen away from the wheels. I enjoy the challenge of pursuing a skill that I’ll never perfect, but get a kick out of on the odd occasion I get close. Away from the cockpit I’ve completed a Masters Degree in Aviation Management and written a few hundred articles and one book. I’m a very lucky guy on so many levels and along with family; aviation has been a central theme.” Owen Zupp

Bourkey and Zuppie Temora

My shelves are filling with Aviation books, and Owen’s will have to be added.

His book Down to Earth —The story of a fighter pilot’s experiences of surviving Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, Dieppe and D-Day, has received much praise.


“Kenneth MGlashan entered the Royal Air Force as a cadet in 1939, training in aircraft such as Tiger Moths and the elegant silver biplane variants of the Hawker Hart. Flying a Hawker Hurricane fighter over the Dunkirk evacuation, he got shot down, the victim of a German Messerschmitt Bf 109; this was neither the first nor the last time he brushed against death. McGlashan carries us in the cockpit through night fighter sorties, wartime airline operations, and missions in his obvious favorite: the twin-engine de Havilland Mosquito. It is our good fortune that the flier returns from war, darkness, abysmal weather, and engine failure, and that the writer Owen Zupp listens patiently and captures McGlashan’s voice in a well-written narrative.”

The Smithsonian. Air & Space Magazine.

Please take a moment to drop by Owen Zupp’s website . You could spend hours in this fantastic aviation site, from speaking engagements to his writings, and everything in between… a must see. The photos are great too!

I’m leaving everyone with a gift, compliments of Owen Zupp. Take five minutes of your day to enjoy the video of Owen’s journey as he flew around Australia during his charity work with the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Owen, thank you for sharing your life with all of us, for all you do… and for your charity work too. I'm glad I had the opportunity to meet you. One day in person.

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene


  1. Wow, this is powerful stuff. Owen has been in the line of fire in a way many of us never are. We can all relate to how a near brush with death emboldens us to live our lives better,though. Love that story about being over 'The Great Dividing Range' when the engine went quiet, and how surviving that moment gave him the courage to ask out his future wife!

    1. Linda... isn't that the truth. Amazing what our experiences do to us. They give us courage and point us in the right direction, if we allow them. Thanks so much for your comment!

  2. So this is really neat! I would LOVE the opportunity to fly a small airplane all the way around Australia. What an amazing thing to get to do! I always love when people get to earn pilot ratings at a young age. Really neat to see too that he went on to fly long-term. Shows that it's never too late to do so!

    1. Daniel, Maybe one day we will fly around Australia. Yes... those young pilots should have a club. You could be part of that club too. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Wow, Karlene! You bring us some of the world's most interesting people. It looks like Owen has had his eye on the ball since childhood -and still does. And of course, another fine author to for us to explore. Please thank him for sharing his story with us. Regarads, -Craig

    1. Craig, I will certainly thank him. His book sounds fascinating. I think undivided focus kept him on his path. Despite the challenges along the way. He's an inspiration. And he writes. Flies. Speaks. Amazing man.

  4. Thats neat that he isn't "just an airline pilot" (not that theres anything wrong with that) but that hes stayed with his GA roots and flew all around an entire continent!

    1. Dan, You'd be amazed how many commercial pilots stick with GA in Australia. Or...maybe it's just those I know. It's pretty neat, and motivating for those pilots coming up. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing passionate stories.I can imagine his life is with airplanes,and I am very proud of him flying over 16,000 hours!!Also I am excited to see Australia map he flew.Every moment must be memorial time!Now I want to fly!!
    Have a safe flight with B737-800.

    1. Jun, Maybe one day you too can fly over Australia. Thank you so much for taking time from your studies and stopping by. I really appreciate it. Fly Safe!

  6. Hi All,

    Thank you for the very kind comments. I truly consider myself the lucky one to have had the great opportunities that have come my way.

    Firstly, I don't recommend a forced landing over inhospitable terrain as the standard catalyst for courtship. Fortunately, I survived on both counts. :-)

    Yes, I do still fly light aircraft of all types. And love it. If they could strap a prop and a set of wimgs on a park bench I'd give it a whirl.:-) My flight around Australia was a very special time for me and has inspired me to again fly for charity in the coming years.

    For the time being, like Karlene, I'll 'fly the line' and continue to write about the magic of flight from every perspective possible.

    Thanks again and cheers from the land 'down under',


    1. Owen, Thank you for a very nice comment. Somehow luck and gratitude always seem to go together. I think you make your own luck. Keep enjoying the flying and one day we'll meet in the land of 'down under.' Happy Flying.


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